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  1. #1

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    Completely confused by aperture on FL lenses

    So I've got this Canon AE-1. Lovely camera, beautiful plumage, &c., &c. I inherited it along with a 50mm FD lens, which works great, and a 28mm FL lens, which I gave up on because the aperture didn't seem to work---no matter what I did, it was wide open. So I figured it was broken and didn't worry about it further.

    I've just bought another FL lens, and I find the aperture doesn't seem to work on that one either. Set the aperture, shoot, and it doesn't stop down for the shot. Set the aperture, hit the DOF switch, and it doesn't stop down. Take the lens off the camera and poke the aperture lever by hand, and it doesn't stop down.

    Now I'm figuring that the first lens probably isn't broken after all, but I don't understand how to make FL lenses work properly. Can someone explain to me what incantation to perform to make the apertures work?

    These are third-party lenses (Zesnar, apparently a Soviet manufacturer from what I can gather), by the way; they don't appear to have the two-ring "select/lock" system that some (all?) of the Canon-made FL lenses had. The only moving parts are the breechlock ring, the focus, and a single aperture ring.

    Thanks

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  2. #2

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    From memory, the FL lenses I had used the same stop-down system as my FDs. I used them interchangeably with my FD lenses on cameras like the FT and FX. It was the earlier lenses that used a different system. Only some FLs had a two ring system with an A-M switch. Many did not.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P View Post
    Only some FLs had a two ring system with an A-M switch. Many did not.
    OK, so I've got the single-ring kind. Any memory of what I need to do to make the diaphragm do its thing?

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  4. #4

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    Aperture On FL Lenses

    There is no particluar advantage to using FL lenses on a Canon AE-1. Most of them will mount properly but none of them will give you either full aperture metering or automatic exposure. I have many FL lenses from 28-200. I wouldn't say there is anything special about the 28/3.5 FL. If you have a camera like the Canon F-1 or FTb, using stop down metering is fairly simple. The A series cameras are much more cumbersome to use that way. The Canon 28/2.8 FD SC sells for very little and is quite sharp. The 28/2.8 New FD is also cheap and sharp.

  5. #5

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    If the aperture blades won't close, there are two likely causes: The mechanism is gummed up or there is oil or moisture on the aperture blades.

    I've seen this before, and it's not too difficult to remove the oil, but some disassembly and removal of lens elements is often part of the process.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by elekm View Post
    If the aperture blades won't close, there are two likely causes: The mechanism is gummed up or there is oil or moisture on the aperture blades.
    Does this mean that as far as anyone can tell I'm doing it right, and I just have the ill luck to have two lenses that both have the same problem? I'm a little sceptical---for one thing, it would be quite unlike my father-in-law to have kept a lens in a non-working condition. I'm still inclined to think this is a case of operator error.

    Can someone give me pathetically explicit, step-by-step instructions for doing stop-down metering with an FL lens on an AE-1?

    Thanks

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by dynachrome View Post
    There is no particluar advantage to using FL lenses on a Canon AE-1.
    ...except that I, y'know, *have* them. The putative disadvantages are things that don't really bother me, and I kind of enjoy bottom-feeding for strange old equipment.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    Can someone give me pathetically explicit, step-by-step instructions for doing stop-down metering with an FL lens on an AE-1?
    Sure, but first a question just to be sure. I'm going by dim recall here cuz I haven't owned or used an FL lens in years, but you might have to rotate your breech lock ring counter clockwise before the aperture will open and close. I know this is the case with breech lock FD lenses, but can no longer recall if this has to be done with FL-style lenses. Now, with an FD lens, in order to rotate the breech lock when it's off the camera, there's a pin on the rear of the lens, inside of the breech lock ring, that has to be depressed before the ring will rotate. A ball-point pen is sufficient to depress this pin.

    If you cannot get the aperture blades to move doing this, then they're most likely stuck.

    Now, assuming that the aperture opens and closes normally, mount the lens to the camera and push the stop down switch to the right until it clicks in place. Meter the scene by adjusting shutter speeds and/or the aperture ring until the needle aligns with the Stop-Down Index Mark, which is a protruding mark next to 5.6 on the scale inside the viewfinder.

    BTW, I am a big fan of some of Canon's FL lenses. The 55mm f/1.2 is actually pretty decent, and the 35mm f/2.5 is the nicest 35mm lens I've ever used.

    Michael

  9. #9

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    It's been a while since I handled an FL lens, but with nearly all non-electronic camera lenses, you should be able to operate the aperture manually when the lens isn't mounted on the camera.

    It's often a pin or lever. Close the aperture to f/8 or minimum aperture and try to see if you can get the lens aperture to open and close manually.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by cooltouch View Post
    Now, assuming that the aperture opens and closes normally, mount the lens to the camera and push the stop down switch to the right until it clicks in place. Meter the scene by adjusting shutter speeds and/or the aperture ring until the needle aligns with the Stop-Down Index Mark, which is a protruding mark next to 5.6 on the scale inside the viewfinder.
    OK---that's what I'm trying to do. If the shutter is cocked, I can sort of feel that a mechanism is engaging somewhere in there---this happens with FD lenses as well---but the blades don't actually close.

    So I guess I've got two lenses with the same problem. Well, they're usable at full aperture, which might not be so bad for some uses, and maybe one of these days opening one up to clean it will make it up to the top of my to-do list...

    Thanks for all the assistance, everyone.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

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